Are Arbitrators lawyers?

Are Arbitrators lawyers?

There are various forms of dispute resolution which are being practised. Alternate dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism are methods of resolving disputes without approaching the court. Arbitration is one of the methods of dispute resolution where the parties agree to settle the dispute amicably and it does not involve a court but an arbitrator to solve the dispute. The decision of the arbitrator and the arbitration proceeding is as final and binding as that of any court. The decision holds the same value as that of a decision given by any court.

Decisions of Arbitration is legally enforceable, and the only difference being is that a court proceeding is extremely formal and requires strict rules and procedures to be followed which is not so in arbitration. We do not choose our judge in court, but we can certainly select our arbitrator. As a result, any agreement made these days, have a mention of the arbitration clause to settle the matter speedily. As more and more preference now given to the alternate method of resolution, it is essential to know who an arbitrator is? Who can act as an arbitrator? And does an arbitrator necessarily require a law degree to work as one?


The arbitrator is usually referred to as an impartial third party who settles the dispute between the two parties in conflict. An arbitrator is a person who may be voluntarily appointed by the parties or statutorily appointed by the court. An arbitrator can be a person belonging to any field of study and need not necessarily be a law degree. They can be from vivid sectors like accounting, health care, insurance, construction, business, trade, etc.

In the case of Satyendra Kumar v Hind Construction Ltd.[1] the word arbitrator was defined as:

“If the parties in dispute refer the matter to a person and such person conducts a judicial inquiry to decide the dispute and gives a judicial decision, such a person is called an arbitrator.


The person preferring to be an arbitrator must possess the formal training and certification as an arbitrator. The rules and standards of different nations vary. For considering the example of United States, a person must possess a minimum of 10 years of professional experience and necessary education and training in the arbitration to act as an arbitrator as per the AAA National Roster of Arbitrators.

As per the provisions of the Indian law, there are no strict and rigid qualifications for appointing a person as an arbitrator. Every person who is of the age of an adult and has a sound mind is eligible to be appointed as an arbitrator. An arbitrator is appointed as per the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.


One of the important skills which are expected out of the arbitrator is to understand the technicalities of law and that is how he will be able to understand the position of the parties who are in controversy with each other and the provisions of the law and give a judicial decision binding in nature and not failing to conform with the law.

The impartiality of the arbitrators is checked by the Arbitration Committee which is responsible for the governing and appointing of the arbitrators. The appointment of the arbitrator can be challenged on the ground of partiality if he fails to disclose his direct, indirect, present or past connection with the parties or the subject matter in dispute, as per section 12(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.

Arbitrators and lawyers:

An arbitrator may be a lawyer but need not necessarily be a lawyer as the term used is an expert, not a lawyer or an advocate. As in the case of Voestalpine Schiene v Delhi Metro Rail Corporation[2], the DMRC is to appoint an arbitrator made a list of serving or retired engineers with the professional experience, who may be from the government department or public sector undertaking.


Arbitration is a proceeding of resolving the disputes outside the court which is done by an arbitrator. An arbitrator is a person appointed by the parties or by the court. Therefore, An arbitrator may be a person with the expertise and certification of acting as an arbitrator. The person may be preferred to be an advocate but not necessarily be an advocate.

[1] AIR 1852 Bom 227

[2] MANU/SC/0162/2017

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